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The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) represents the interests of UK writers and aims to ensure they are fairly compensated for works that are copied, broadcast or recorded. Writers’ primary rights are protected by contract, but it is the subsequent life of the work that needs to be monitored and fairly rewarded.

It is with secondary rights that copyright has an important role to play in protecting writers from unpaid use of their work. Secondary use ranges from photocopying both in the UK and overseas to reproduction in journals and repeat use via the internet and digital reproduction.

ALCS claim to seek to protect and promote authors’ rights:

  • by encouraging the establishment of collective licensing schemes, where appropriate
  • by fostering an awareness of copyright issues to enable writers to maximise their income, and
  • by ensuring that fees resulting from such schemes are efficiently collected and distributed.

Run by writers for writers, ALCS claim it has has distributed over £114 million to writers since its inception in 1977. It is the largest writers’ organisation in the UK, with over 50,000 members, and in the last financial year ALCS paid out a total of £12.32 million to over 32,000 writers.

ALCS claims it is recognised internationally as a leading authority on copyright matters and authors’ interests and are committed to fostering an awareness of intellectual property issues among the writing community. They maintain a close watch on all matters affecting copyright both in the UK and internationally and make regular representations to the UK government and the European Commission on behalf of writers.

By registering your work with them they monitor its use and reward you accordingly. For example libraries world wide pay when items are photocopied and ALCS channels a proportion of this money to authors if they are registered. As a rule of thumb writing a number of academic papers that are photocopied widely could earn you £1000 a year at 2005 prices.

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